2000 Norfolk-USVI Report

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an Island Packet 420



Norfolk to USVI
Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to St Thomas, USVI
Date:          November 16-29, 2000
Vessel:        IP420 HOT WATER
Students:     Tim Daly, Russ Mail, Tom Morganthau & John Wybenga
First Mate: Lee Tucker
Captain:      Rose Witte

Our two- day seminar in Little Creek Va., which familiarized everyone with the use of the equipment and procedures on-board, culminated in a flurry of activity attending to last minute preparations. We departed the dock at 1250 on Saturday, Nov 18.

There was a frontal passage on the evening before our sailing which gave us a NW wind at 10-15 knots for our departure. A low  pressure system and forecast gale was projected to move off the coast of Georgia the next day.

It seemed as though the thing to do was to get across the Gulf Stream as fast as possible and deal with a possible encounter with the gale on the other side of the stream. We motor sailed SE with around 7 knots of boat speed and crossed the stream at N 35 40'. The forecast low had indeed heated up to a gale and was expected to move along a high pressure ridge to the south of us that night so we decided to heave to and let it pass. The wind was out of the NE averaging around 23 knots, with one log entry recording 35 knots during the twelve hours that we were hove to. At 0300 the wind started backing to a more northerly direction, indicating that the gale had move SE of us. We passed the jib and resumed making way at 0300.

The wind gradually backed to the NW and built to 30 + knots. It oscillated  between  W and N at a velocity ranging from 15-35 knots for the next 3 days which gave us opportunity to cover lots of distance. Our course set us up pretty near perfectly for entering an area of high pressure at N29/W66, where the wind went east. On retrospect, I wish that we had made a bit more easterly so, when the trades filled in we could have eased the sheets and kept the boat a bit more upright. As it was, we were still in a good position to make great speed (7-8knots) down to N24/W64-30, and then onward to the islands. We made landfall, coming in on the western end of Jost Van Dyke, on Monday morning Nov. 27, and had a lovely sail through Pillsbury Sound. We landed at Crown Bay Marina nine days after our departure from Norfolk.

I greatly enjoyed this trip and I think that every one got what they came for. It really was a great ocean experience with plenty of wind and a few majestic waves. The highlights of this trip included the wind and seas, catching some sights of the sun and stars, landing and eating a mahi-mahi, and making a fast passage. Our planning involved some interesting tactics and strategy, most of which panned out pretty well. It was great to have a chance to heave-to with the objective of storm avoidance as opposed to the purpose of riding it out, (which most often happens). We had a solid crew and a sturdy boat. The lessons learned have made us all better sailors.

Captain Rose Witte 
aboard S/V HOT WATER
St Thomas, USVI
November 29, 2000

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